Fr. Ben’s homily for the Divine Mercy Sunday Year B
Theme: THE SACRAMENTS OF DIVINE MERCY
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
Homily for Sunday April 11 2021
* Act 4 : 32 -35, 1 Jn 5 : 1-7, Jn 20 : 19 -31.
I welcome you to the 2nd Sunday of Easter ; the Sunday of reconciliation between Christ and his disciples – the Sunday of energization when the disciples received what I choose to call ‘pre-pentecost ministration’ from Christ. Today’s reflection will be based on the tripodal stand of faith, repentance and mercy.
We are told in today’s 1st reading, that the whole group of believers were united, heart and soul.This fellowship gave rise to the rebirth of the infant Church that could have been decimated under the quicksands of fear and hopelessness after the crucifixion of Christ.
B. THE UPPER ROOM SCENARIO
The disciples were full of fear, guilt, sorrow and faithlessness after the death of Christ when Christ met them at the Upper room and said : ‘Shalom – Peace be with you!’. Jesus’ advice to Thomas who already began backsliding from fellowship was : ‘Do not be faithless, but be a believer!’. His next reply was a ‘transcendental leap of faith’ as Soren Kierkegaard would say : ‘My Lord and my God’. The 3 operative words of today’s homily therefore will be faith, repentance and forgiveness/mercy.
C. THE THEOLOGY OF MERCY
Mercy is energized by faith while faith is energized by fellowship. Everything we do together in life requires forgiveness and mercy and that is why the Church is founded on the theology of Divine Mercy.
‘Marriage’ says Thomas Pazayampallil ‘is a union of two good forgivers’. Friendship is an association of 2 or more people who have decided to tolerate themselves. Brotherhood is a cultic union of 2 or more people who have been bonded by the ties of blood/covenant relationship. A political party is an association of people who are blinded by a joint project of taking over or retaining the power of government. A religious denomination is an assembly of believers who have sworn to live and die together within a common patrimony of faith. So what are we talking about here? The solidarity that proceeds from faith, fellowship and forgiveness is what sustains whatever we call Church.
There are 3 symbols of the sacraments of Divine Mercy according to the 2nd reading of today : Water represents our baptismal purification, Blood represents the Eucharistic covenant while Spirit represents our regeneration. The Bible says that ‘Whoever believes that Jesus Christ has been begotten by God overcomes the world’, 1 Jn 5 : 1 – 6. So, the sacraments of Divine Mercy are as follows: THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION : Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist and THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING : Penance and Anointing of the Sick.
D. PEDAGOGICAL LESSONS
1. It is not good to judge someone of an offence which God has forgiven him/her of.
2. It is not good to loose hope of Divine Mercy no matter the extent of our fall. Doubting the mercy of God is the real defeat for children of God as it happened to Judas on Good Friday.
3. At the realm of mercy, justice is usually suspended. However, both justice and mercy remain essential tools God uses in administering the universe, Sir 5 : 6 – 7.
4. According to Fr Gabriel Otegbulu, God’s mercy is unconditionally given but conditionally received. And that condition is repentance.
E. POSCRIPT ON THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC
The CoViD 19 Pandemic is over one year in our midst now. This pandemic brought fear, crisis of faith and a number conspiracy theories that came it. Many bishops, priests, religious and lay men and women were divided in their understanding of both the source of this virus and the best reaction to the situation. Some took a very fanatical position, deciding to ignore all medical recommendations about the management of this pandemic, for example, some have insisted on giving Holy Communion in the tongue and on gathering very large crowds of believers without physical distance or use of facemasks. Some took a very agnostic position that endangered the faith completely and almost jettisoning the essential apparachiks of our faith, for example locking of Church doors completely from the faithful and disruption of some essential liturgical proceedings such as offertory after Holy Communion, etc. A Latin adage says ‘Quod homines tot sententia’ – As many men as their are many opinions.
But on this Divine Mercy Sunday, it is important to reecho the importance of fellowship under the Bishop’s guidance. The bishops are the most authoritative custodians of the sacraments, not the Pious Societies or at worse, individual private revelations. Even when various bishops disagree on sundry theological issues, it is important to follow the directions of one’s own Local Ordinary who is in the best position to discern whatever suits his own pastoral environment at any given time otherwise the universality and unity of the Roman Catholic Church will be compromised.
I wish you a Happy Easter once again!
FR BEN AGBO.